(First written and posted in September 2017 for the Cre8kits website)
Written by Becky Woolley
Opportunities for crafting in Autumn are amazing and varied so I am going to have a lot of fun sharing the autumnal crafting love. This first Autumn post is all about making those “evergreen” seasonal favourites…Leaf sail boats!
Making Leaf Sail Boats
This is perfect for those still beautiful days that you get in Autumn and you find yourself by a pond or lake with children or even a group of friends (it’s surprising how competitive people can get over a tiny leaf boat!)
Make your boats as complex or as simple as you can find materials for. You will always have an abundance of natural materials to choose the right mast or sail for the job.
Although this is all about the fun of building and sailing your boats; there are also a massive amount of positive learning opportunities for children in this activity such as:
- Experimentation with materials to see what floats and what doesn’t.
- Design – obviously important if you don’t want a sinking boat.
- The experience of actually getting your hands right in there and getting muddy or wet. Although this sounds a strange one some of my fondest childhood memories involve me getting muddy, covered in leaves or on one or two memorable occasions totally soaked from head to foot. However when close to water children should always be under supervision from a suitable adult as edges can be slippery and children overly absorbed in the fun.
- The social benefits of both working together and also individually. Some children thrive on working by themselves and others in a group situation so it’s always good to swap round. This gives a chance to learn that they can work either way and it’s not scary.
- It is also a good opportunity to teach children some of the names of insects, birds or plants they come across and get a bit of early nature love starting. Who knows, you may inspire a future career!
The boats themselves are really just up to your imagination and experimentation. The boats that sink are just as important in the process as the ones that float.
You basically need a “boat” base bit – either a leaf, nut shell, raft or piece of bark. Leaves with defined edges work best for this as they don’t easily let water over the edges. We found a couple of walnut shell husks enjoyed by a squirrel and these worked brilliantly. You do however have to balance your mast and leaf quite carefully so that it doesn’t tip over. We found wedging a small twig from top to bottom of the shell worked well but just experiment. Then you need a mast – twig, hollow grass stem or leaf stem. And finally a sail – leaf or flower petal.
If you are attempting a raft then you may need a piece of twine to hold it all together. However please take it back away with you and leave nothing but your footprints behind. Please also take care around bodies of water and supervise children at all times.
Hope you have an amazingly productive boat building session full of mud, pond skaters and most importantly fun!
I’d love to see your creations so please send them in with your first name and county to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them all up on here.